George Weah in 2016
|Member of the Senate of Liberia|
from Montserrado County
Assumed office |
14 January 2015
Serving with Geraldine Doe-Sherif
|Preceded by||Joyce Musu Freeman-Sumo|
George Tawlon Manneh|
Oppong Ousman Weah
1 October 1966
|Political party||Congress for Democratic Change|
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 1⁄2 in)|
|Relations||Christopher Wreh (cousin)|
|Children||George Jr., Tita, Timothy|
Wells Hairston High School
George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah (born 1 October 1966) is a Liberian humanitarian, politician, and retired professional footballer who played as a striker. Regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time and as one of the best forwards of his generation, in 1995 he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or, becoming the first African player to win these awards. In 1989, 1994 and 1995 he was named the African Footballer of the Year, and in 1996, he was named African Player of the Century. Known for his acceleration and dribbling ability in addition to his finishing, Weah was described by FIFA as "the precursor of the multi-functional strikers of today". In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.
After starting his career in his home country Liberia, Weah spent fourteen years of his professional football career playing for clubs in France, Italy, and England. Arsène Wenger brought him to Europe when he signed for Monaco in 1988. Weah moved to Paris Saint Germain in 1992 where he won Ligue 1 in 1994 and became the top scorer of the UEFA Champions League 1994–95. He signed for A.C. Milan in 1995 where he spent four successful seasons, and won the Italian Serie A twice. His most notable goal in Italy saw him run the length of the field against Verona. He moved to the English Premier League towards the end of his career and had spells at Chelsea and Manchester City, before returning to France to play for Marseille in 2001, and subsequently ending his career with Al-Jazira in 2003. At international level, he represented Liberia at the African Cup of Nations on two occasions.
An idol in Africa, Weah has been heavily involved in politics in his homeland Liberia. He ran unsuccessfully for president in the 2005 election, losing to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the second round of voting. In the 2011 election, he ran for vice president on Winston Tubman's ticket. Running as a Congress for Democratic Change candidate, Weah was elected to the Senate in 2014.
Early career in Liberia and France
After playing in the Liberian domestic league at the beginning of his successful career, and winning several national honours (including the Liberian Premier League and the Liberian Cup), Weah moved to Europe in 1988, when he was signed by Arsène Wenger, who was the manager of Monaco at the time, and whom Weah credits as an important influence on his career. During his time with Monaco, Weah won the African Footballer of the Year for the first time in 1989; this was his first major award and he took it back home for the entire country to celebrate. Weah also won the French Cup in 1991, and he helped Monaco reach the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1992, scoring 4 goals in 9 cup appearances.
Weah subsequently played for Paris Saint Germain (1992–95), with whom he won the Coupe de France in 1993 and 1995, the French league in 1994, and the Coupe de la Ligue in 1995 during a highly prolific and successful period; he also became the top scorer of the 1994–95 UEFA Champions League, with 7 goals, after reaching the semi-finals with the club, one of which was a skilful individual "wonder-goal" against Bayern Munich in the group stage, on the 23rd November 1994. During his time at the club, he also managed to reach the semi-finals of the 1992–93 UEFA Cup, and the semi-finals of the 1993–94 European Cup Winners' Cup; in total, he scored 16 goals in 25 European games. In 1994, he won the African Footballer of the Year Award for the second time in his career.
Milan and individual success
Weah moved to A.C. Milan in 1995, with whom he immediately won the Italian league in 1996 under Fabio Capello, playing alongside Roberto Baggio and Dejan Savićević in Milan's attack, as well as Marco Simone, on occasion, and finishing the season as Milan's top goalscorer; he won the Serie A title once again in 1999. During his time with the club, he also reached the 1998 Coppa Italia final, and finished as runner-up in the Supercoppa Italiana on two occasions, in 1996 and 1999. Despite their European dominance in the early 1990s, Milan were less successful in Europe during this time however, with their best result being a quarter-final finish in the 1995–96 UEFA Cup. In addition to his skill, athleticism and goalscoring prowess, Weah also became famous at Milan for scoring several notable goals, including his goal against Lazio in December 1995, and in particular a solo goal against Verona at the San Siro, which saw him take the ball just outside his own penalty area, and slalom his way past seven opposing players, before scoring. In total, he scored 58 goals in 147 games for Milan.
Due to his successes, goalscoring, and performances with both Paris Saint Germain and Milan, in 1995, Weah was the recipient of several individual awards: he won the Ballon d'Or, the Onze d'Or, and was named FIFA World Player of the Year, becoming the first and, currently, only native African player ever to win these awards; Weah dedicated his FIFA World Player of the Year victory to his former manager, Arsène Wenger, stating that it was thanks to him that he was able to develop into a world class player. That year, he also won the African Player of the Year Award for the third time in his career, and was named to the Onze de Onze by the French football magazine Onze Mondial. In 1996, Weah finished second in the FIFA World Player of the Year ranking; he was also the recipient of the FIFA Fair Play Award, and was voted the African Player of the Century by sport journalists from all around the world. Pelé won the same award as the South American Player of the Century, and Johan Cruyff as the European Player of the Century.
Weah was banned from six European matches for breaking the nose of the Portuguese defender Jorge Costa on 20 November 1996 in the players' tunnel after Milan's draw at FC Porto in the Champions League. Weah said he exploded in frustration after putting up with racist tauntings from Jorge Costa during both of the teams' Champions League matches that autumn. Costa strenuously denied the accusations of racism and was not charged by UEFA as no witnesses could verify Weah's allegations, not even his Milan teammates. Weah later attempted to apologise to Costa but this was rebuffed by the Portuguese, who considered the charges of racist insults levelled against him to be defamatory and took the Liberian to court. The incident led to him undergoing facial surgery and he was subsequently sidelined for three weeks. Despite the incident Weah still received the FIFA Fair Play Award in 1996.
Spell in England
Weah's time in England was deemed a success, especially at Chelsea where he instantly endeared himself to their fans by scoring the winner against rivals Tottenham Hotspur on his debut, and scored further league goals against Wimbledon and Liverpool. He also scored twice in Chelsea's victorious 1999–2000 FA Cup campaign, netting crucial goals against Leicester City and Gillingham. This led to him starting in the final, which Chelsea won 1–0.
Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli did not make Weah's move permanent, and on 1 August 2000 he officially left Milan, and signed for newly promoted English Premier League side Manchester City on a free transfer on a two-year contract worth £30,000 a week, declining the offer of a £1 million pay-off from Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi. He played 11 games in all competitions for City, scoring four times, before leaving on 16 October 2000 after becoming dissatisfied with manager Joe Royle for selecting him as a substitute too frequently; he had only played the full 90 minutes in three of his 11 games for the Maine Road club. At City he scored once in the league against Liverpool (as he did at Chelsea), and three times against Gillingham (again as he had at Chelsea), this time in the League Cup; once in the first leg and twice in the second.
Following his time in England, Weah returned to France and had a spell at Marseille, where he remained until May 2001. He later played with Al-Jazira in the UAE Arabian Gulf League, where he remained until is retirement as a player in 2003, at the age of 37.
As successful as he was at club level, Weah was not able to bring over that success to the Liberian national team. In total, Weah played 60 games for Liberia over 20 years, scoring 22 goals. As one of the smaller nations in world football and perennial underdogs, Weah did everything he could in order to support the national squad: aside from being the team's star player, he also later coached the squad, and even funded his national side to a large extent. Despite his efforts, he was unsuccessful in helping Liberia qualify for a single World Cup, falling just a point short in qualifying for the 2002 tournament. However, he did help Liberia to qualify for the African Cup of Nations on two occasions: Weah represented his country in the 1996 and 2002 editions of the tournament, although Liberia failed to make it out of their group both times, suffering first-round eliminations.
Style of play
During his prime in the 1990s, Weah was regarded as one of the best strikers in the world, and was lauded for his work-rate, as well as his physical and athletic attributes, which he combined with his finishing, technical ability, creativity and skill. A fast, powerful, physically strong player, he successfully filled the void left in the Milan attack by club legend Marco van Basten. In addition to his pace, dribbling skills, and goalscoring ability, Weah was also a team-player who was capable of creating chances and assisting goals for team-mates. Along with Ronaldo and Romário, Weah was seen as a modern, new breed of striker in the 1990s who would also operate outside the penalty area and run with the ball towards goal, during a time when most strikers primarily operated inside the penalty area where they would receive the ball from team mates.
Named African Footballer of the Year three times and becoming the first African to be named FIFA World Player of the Year, his prominence in the 1990s led him to be nicknamed "King George". Weah received further recognition in 2004 when he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. In 2013, Italy and A.C. Milan legend Franco Baresi named Weah in the greatest XI he has ever played with. As well as being regarded as one of the greatest African footballers of all time, during his career Weah also stood out off the pitch for his initiatives to fight racism in football.
Weah is a devoted humanitarian for his war-torn country. At the 2004 ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre, Los Angeles, Weah won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for his efforts. He has also been named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, a role which he has suspended while he pursues a political career.
Football and children
Weah has tried to use football as a way to bring happiness and promote education for children in Liberia. In 1998, Weah launched a CD called Lively Up Africa featuring the singer Frisbie Omo Isibor and eight other African football stars. The proceeds from this CD went to children's programmes in the countries of origin of the athletes involved.
Weah was President of the Junior Professionals, a football team he founded in Monrovia in 1994. The team is now defunct. As a way to encourage young people to remain in school, the club's only requirement for membership is school attendance. Many of the young people, recruited from all over Liberia, have gone on to play for the Liberian national team.
George Weah was born and raised in the Clara Town slum of Monrovia. He is a member of the Kru ethnic group, which hails from south-eastern Liberia's Grand Kru County, one of the poorest areas of the country. His parents were William T. Weah, Sr. and Anna Quayeweah. He was raised largely by his paternal grandmother, Emma Klonjlaleh Brown. He attended middle school at Muslim Congress and high school at Wells Hairston High School. Before his football career allowed him to move abroad, Weah worked for the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation as a switchboard technician.
He has three children: George Weah Jr, Tita and Timothy. After a trial with Chelsea in 2013, Timothy signed with Paris Saint-Germain in 2015. He also plays for the United States at youth level. Weah's cousin Christopher Wreh was also a professional footballer, most notably for Arsenal FC.
George Weah converted from Protestant Christianity to Islam, before converting back. He hopes for peace for Muslims and Christians, and says they are "one people." Nowadays Weah professes Protestantism.
Following the end of Second Liberian Civil War, Weah announced his intention to run for President of Liberia in the 2005 elections, forming the Congress for Democratic Change to back his candidacy. While Weah was a popular figure in Liberia, opponents cited his lack of formal education as a handicap to his ability to lead the country, in contrast with his Harvard-educated opponent, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Analysts also noted Weah's lack of experience, calling him a "babe-in-the-woods", while Sirleaf had served as Minister of Finance in the Tolbert administration in the 1970s and had held positions at Citibank, the World Bank and the United Nations. Weah's eligibility to run for Presidency was also called into question as it was reported that he had become a French citizen in his footballing career at Paris St. Germain, but these complaints were rebuffed by the electoral commission in court and Weah was allowed to proceed.
Weah obtained a plurality of votes in the first round of voting on 11 October, garnering 28.3% of the vote. This qualified him to compete in a run-off election against Sirleaf, the second placed candidate. However, he lost the run-off to Sirleaf on 8 November, garnering only 40.6% to 59.4% for Sirleaf. Weah alleged that the election had been rigged through voter intimidation and ballot tampering, and many of his supporters protested the results in the streets of Monrovia. However, after assurances that the vote was fair several prominent African leaders called on Weah's supporters to accept the result with grace and dignity, and Sirleaf became President. The African Union had characterized the elections as "peaceful, transparent, and fair".
Weah's lack of education became a campaign issue. He has been highly critical of those who say he is not fit to govern: "With all their education and experience, they have governed this nation for hundreds of years. They have never done anything for the nation." He initially claimed to have a BA degree in Sports Management from Parkwood University in London. However this is an unaccredited diploma mill which awards certificates without requiring study. Weah then pursued a degree in business administration at DeVry University in Miami.
Weah also remained active in Liberian politics, returning from the United States in 2009 to successfully campaign for the Congress for Democratic Change candidate in the Montserrado County senatorial by-election. Some analysts saw these moves as preparation for a repeat run for the Presidency in 2011, and Weah did indeed later announce his intention to challenge Sirleaf in the 2011 election. After a series of failed alliances with other opposition parties, the Congress for Democratic Change chose Weah as its 2011 vice presidential candidate, running with presidential candidate Winston Tubman.
In 2014 he ran for election to the Senate as a Congress for Democratic Change candidate in Montserrado County. He was overwhelmingly elected to the Liberian Senate on December 20, 2014. Weah defeated Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Sirleaf, becoming the first Liberian international athlete elected to represent a county in the Legislature. He won a landslide victory, receiving 99,226 votes, which represented 78.0% of the total votes from the 141 polling centers, while Sirleaf, his closest rival received 13,692 votes, which is nearly 11% in the election marred only by a low turnout.
|Club||Season||League||Cup||League Cup||Super Cup||Europe||Total|
- Scores and results list Liberia's goal tally first.
|1.||1987-01-30||National Complex, Monrovia||Nigeria||1–0||2–0||1987 West African Nations Cup|
|2.||1988-08-21||National Complex, Monrovia||Ghana||1–0||2–0||1990 World Cup qualifier|
|3.||1989-06-11||National Complex, Monrovia||Malawi||1–0||1–0||1990 World Cup qualifier|
|4.||1994-09-04||National Complex, Monrovia||Togo||1–0||1–0||1996 African Cup of Nations qualifier|
|5.||1996-06-23||Accra Sports Stadium, Accra||Gambia||2–0||4–0||1998 World Cup qualifier|
|6.||1997-04-06||Accra Sports Stadium, Accra||Egypt||1–0||1–0||1998 World Cup qualifier|
|7.||1997-06-22||National Complex, Monrovia||DR Congo||2–0||2–1||1998 African Cup of Nations qualifier|
|8.||1999-06-20||National Complex, Monrovia||Tunisia||2–0||2–0||2000 African Cup of Nations qualifier|
|9.||2000-07-16||National Complex, Monrovia||Cape Verde||1–0||3–0||2002 African Cup of Nations qualifier|
|10.||2001-04-22||National Complex, Monrovia||Sudan||2–0||2–0||2002 World Cup qualifier|
|11.||2001-07-14||National Stadium, Freetown||Sierra Leone||1–0||1–0||2002 World Cup qualifier|
|12.||2001-08-23||Estadio Luis de la Fuente, Veracruz||Mexico||1–2||4–5||Friendly|
|13.||2002-01-19||Stade du 26 Mars, Bamako||Mali||1–0||1–1||2002 African Cup of Nations|
- Liberian Premier League: 1986–87
- African Footballer of the Year: 1989, 1994, 1995
- FIFA XI: 1991, 1996 (Reserve), 1997, 1998
- French Division 1 Foreign Player of the Year: 1990–91
- UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 1994–95
- BBC African Footballer of the Year: 1995
- Onze d'Or: 1995
- Ballon d'Or: 1995
- FIFA World Player of the Year: 1995
- ESM Team of the Year: 1995–96
- Onze d'Argent: 1996
- FIFA Fair Play Award: 1996
- FIFA World Player of the Year – Silver award: 1996
- IFFHS African Player of the Century: 1996
- World Soccer's 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time: 1999
- FIFA 100: 2004
- Arthur Ashe Courage Award 2004
- Golden Foot Legends Award: 2005
- A.C. Milan Hall of Fame
- "FIFA Magazine – An idol for African footballers". FIFA. Archived from the original on 19 July 2006. Retrieved 6 December 2006.
- "Iconic Weah a true great". FIFA.com. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
- "Pele's list of the greatest". BBC Sport. 4 March 2004. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
- "AC Milan Hall of Fame: George Weah". acmilan.com. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
- "Iconic Weah a true great". FIFA.com. Retrieved 17 November 2013
- "George Weah in focus". bbc.co.uk. London. 25 July 2001. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2006.
- "On The Spot: George Weah". Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 9 December 2006.
- "UEFA 60 Great goals: Weah". UEFA. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
- "AMONG THE VERY BEST". acmilan.com. 15 September 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- "Weah: Ballon d'Or put me and Liberia on the map". FIFA.com. 27 December 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- "Court postpones Weah trial". BBC.co.uk. 28 February 2001. Archived from the original on 10 September 2002. Retrieved 28 February 2001.
- "Weah's Ban Puts Soccer's Fairness Rule on the Line". IHT.com. Retrieved 19 June 2008.
- "Weah cleared for debut". BBC News. 12 January 2000.
- "Winner for Weah on debut". London: BBC. 12 January 2000. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- Ridley, Ian (12 February 2000). "Olsen's flying circus on downward spiral". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- "Weah gives Liverpool the Blues". London: BBC. 29 April 2000. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- Brodkin, Jon (30 January 2000). "Blues see red and yellow". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- Thorpe, Martin (20 February 2000). "Chelsea bring Gills down to earth". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- Rich, Tim (2 August 2000). "Weah joins Royle's revolution". The Independent. London.
- "Weah snubs golden handshake". BBC News. 19 August 2000.
- Nixon, Alan (17 October 2000). "Weah's blue moon affair lasts 11 games". The Independent. London.
- "Hamann double sees off City". London: BBC. 9 September 2000. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- "Manchester City 1–1 Gillingham". London: BBC. 20 September 2000. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- "Gillingham 2–4 Man City (agg: 3–5)". London: BBC. 26 September 2000. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- "The best footballers to have never played in the World Cup". Daily Mail. Retrieved 21 January 2015
- "George Weah". britannica.com. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
- "George Manneh Oppong Ousman WEAH" (in Italian). Magliarossonera. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
- "Quanto era forte George Weah..." (in Italian). Mai Dire Calcio. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
- "Ronaldo, Klose: Different to the finish". Retrieved 13 December 2014.
- "Ronaldo, Romario Reinvented Striker's Role, Says Thierry Henry". In Sports. Retrieved 16 January 2015
- "Italian Franco Baresi picks One2Eleven on the Fantasy Football Club". Sky Sports. Retrieved 16 January 2015
- "FIFA 14 Ultimate Team Legends". EA Sports. Retrieved 6 February 2015
- "Weah selected for Arthur Ashe Courage Award". ESPN.com. Retrieved 25 April 2007.
- "George Weah's son having trial at Chelsea,". ESPN FC. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
- "Weah's Son Signs For PSG". The Inquirer Newspaper. The Inquirer. 15 September 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- "Timothy Weah". U.S. Soccer. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
- You quizzed George Weah – BBC.com
- "Protestante Digital - TAGS". Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "Profile: George Weah". BBC News. 11 November 2005.
- "African leaders hail Liberia poll". BBC News. 13 November 2005.
- David Goldenberg (22 April 2005). "George Weah in Diploma-Mill Scandal". Gelf Magazine.
- Liberia's George Weah to Seek a College Degree. Voice of America. 19 June 2007. Accessed 30 November 2009
- George Weah gets educated in quest for election. USA Today. 11 August 2010. Accessed 11 August 2010
- Weah Confronted. Liberian Observer 25 November 2009. Accessed 30 November 2009
- College-bound George Weah gave us something to talk about. The Liberian Dialogue 22 July 2007. Accessed 30 November 2009
- "Brumskine-Siakor: Another Dream Ticket?". The 1847 Post. 9 February 2011.
- Montserrado County NEC Liberia
- "Top News - The Liberian Observer". Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- Statistics link
- Statistics link 2
- "A.C. Milan Hall of Fame: George Weah". acmilan.com. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- "African Player of the Year". RSSSF.com. 2001-01-05. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
- "Matches of FIFA XI". Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "France - Footballer of the Year". Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- Roberto Di Maggio; Roberto Mamrud; Jarek Owsianski; Davide Rota (11 June 2015). "Champions Cup/Champions League Topscorers". RSSSF. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
- Piers Edwards (13 October 2015). "History of the BBC African Footballer of the Year award". BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- José Luis Pierrend (6 March 2012). ""Onze Mondial" Awards: Onze de Onze 1976-2011". RSSSF. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
- Rob Moore; Karel Stokkermans (21 January 2011). "European Footballer of the Year ("Ballon d'Or")". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
- José Luis Pierrend (12 February 2015). "FIFA Awards". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
- "ESM XI". rsssf.com. RSSSF. Archived from the original on 7 February 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
- "FACTSheet FIFA awards" (PDF). FIFA. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
- "Africa - Player of the Century". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- "World Soccer Players of the Century". World Soccer. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
- Christopher Davies (5 March 2004). "Pele open to ridicule over top hundred". telegraph.co.uk. The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
- "The 2004 ESPY Awards - Weah selected for Arthur Ashe Courage Award". ESPN. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- "Legends". Golden Foot. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- Player profile and statistics – www.liberiansoccer.com
- Criticism of Weah's campaign for presidency
- Biography on UNICEF's homepage
- Italian Profile